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PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review: A 2% Cash Back Contender

PenFed Power Cash Rewards

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review: A 2% Cash Back Contender

A great fixed-rate cash back credit cards. Good for anyone who is looking for simple, yet high, credit card rewards
Editor's Rating: 4.5/5.0

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is either a great or excellent credit card, depending on which of its two rewards rates you can qualify for. Anyone accepted for the card can get at least 1.5 % cash back, which is decent on its own. However, those who meet certain eligibility criteria, which we outline below, can get a 2% cash back rate on all purchases, which is a rare sight among even the best credit cards.

This card is good for...

  • Current/former military members who can qualify for the 2% rewards rate
  • People who want a simple fixed-rate rewards program

This card is bad for...

  • Consumers looking for an easy-to-get sign-up bonus

Review: Our Thoughts On The PenFed Power Cash Rewards

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is a good cash back credit card anyway you slice it. The base 1.5% cash back rewards rate is solid and competitive. It can hold its own against even the top cash back credit cards, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Capital One® Quicksilver® Card. If you meet certain eligibility requirements, the card can give you a 2% cash back rate on all purchases, which is as good as any fixed-rate cash back credit cards gets. If you don't have the necessary qualifications to get the 2% rewards rate, consider applying for the Citi® Double Cash Card instead.

The bonus on the PenFed Power Cash Rewards has room for improvement. Users can earn $100 after spending at least $1,500 on purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. Most cash back credit cards typically award a similar bonus for spending far less money. We typically see just a $500 spending requirement for a $100 prize. Therefore, you are working three times as hard to get the same bonus that you could get on other cards of this type.

One final feature worth noting is the card’s balance transfer capabilities. You can get a promotional 0% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 12 months your account is open. While that's a nice feature, if you are looking for a card to serve this function, there are far better options available. The best balance transfer credit cards offer longer 0% APR periods and some even waive the 3% transfer fee you’d have to pay with the PenFed Power Cash Rewards.

Bottom Line: The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is a fantastic new credit card, especially if you are a current/former military member. Those who can qualify for this card’s 2% rewards rate on all purchases will be hard pressed to find many other card offers that could top this it.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Benefits & Features

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards offers up a 1.5% cash back rate on every purchase. If you have an Access America Checking Account or are a current, or former, military member you can receive 2% back. The card also has a $100 spend bonus that kicks in once you spend at least $1,500 within the first 90 days of account opening.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards
PenFed Power Cash Rewards
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Purchase APR
9.24% to 17.99% Variable
Credit Needed N/A
Details
  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase
  • 2% cash back on every purchase as an Access America Checking account holder or as a current/former military member
  • 0% promo APR for 12 months (3% fee applies to each transaction)

In addition to the cash back rewards, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards doubles as a balance transfer credit card. Cardholders can receive 12 months of 0% APR on debt they move over to this card. That gives a year of no interest to allow cardholders to pay down their principal debt. For the average indebted household, who currently carries around $16,000 in credit card debt, that can save approximately $1,551 over those 12 months – assuming the cardholder can afford $1,000 monthly payments and is moving from an APR of 15% (the national average).

Who Can Apply for the PenFed Power Cash Rewards

Like with all PenFed credit cards, you must be a PenFed member to apply for the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. If you serve in the United States military or uniformed services, are a U.S. government employee, or are related to someone who is, you probably qualify for membership.

If none of those things apply to you, it’s still possible the join by becoming a member of an eligible group. Civilians, for example, can join the National Military Family Association. Doing so costs a one-time $17 fee, and allows you to join PenFed.

To get this card, you also need to open a regular share account with at least $5 deposited to it.

How Does The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Compare To Other Credit Cards?

To get a better sense of how good the PenFed Power Cash Rewards is, we compared it to other credit cards available. Below we compared and contrasted the most relevant features for each match-up.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

The Citi® Double Cash Card is one of the closest cards you can get to the PenFed Power Cash Rewards, without having to join PenFed. The card awards 1% cash back on all purchases, and another 1% back when those purchases are paid off. Because we advise all consumers to always pay off their bill in full each month, these cards should be equivalent. If for some reason you do carry a balance, however, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards provides an advantage, since it will give you cash back on all your spending, whether you paid it off or not. If you qualify for just the 1.5% rewards rate, the Citi® Double Cash Card is the better card.

The Citi® Double Cash Card does not come with any bonus, unlike the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. Therefore, assuming a similar rewards rates on both cards, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards will provide consumers with the better short-term value, and a bigger gross return on spending overall.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card

The PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card is another flagship PenFed credit card, and it can be better for some consumers than the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. It all comes down to how you spend and your personal taste. Instead of cash back, this card awards 5 points per dollar at the pump, 3 points on all supermarket purchases, and 1 point per dollar elsewhere. How you use these points will greatly determine your rewards rate. For example, exchanging them for gift cards gives you about $0.008 per point, which works out to a 4.3%, 2.6%, or 0.08% rewards rate – depending on where you shop. So long as your average rewards rate comes out above 2%, you should get this card over the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. Figuring out that math may be tricky, so we suggest using one of our calculators instead.

Don't apply for the PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card unless you are willing to spend some time figuring out the best use (and value) for your points.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is one of the best 1.5% cash back credit cards in the business. If we are comparing this card to the baseline 1.5% version of the PenFed Power Cash Rewards we have to give the slight edge to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Because the card gives you Chase Ultimate Rewards points, instead of ordinary cash back, you are being paid in a significantly better rewards currency. If you ever decide to get a tier-2 Chase credit card, your points could be used towards more things at a higher value – including travel and transfers to airlines/hotels. Therefore, picking the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is like making an investment you hope will pay off in the future. Even if it doesn’t, you get as much as you would with the PenFed Power Cash Rewards.

The only exception to this rule applies if you can qualify for the 2% cash back rate on the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. In those scenarios, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® probably can't beat the PenFed card. Therefore, if you are a military member or have family who is, we highly recommend the PenFed Power Cash Rewards.

How Does The PenFed Power Cash Rewards Compare Based On How You Spend?

If you’re having a tough time deciding between all the options, feel free to use our comparison tool below. Input your estimated monthly spending into the calculator, and it will estimate the value of each card given your profile. This saves you from having to do all the calculations yourself. Note: We assume a 1.5% rewards rate on the PenFed Power Cash Rewards. If you can qualify for the 2% cash back on the card, simply multiply the estimate we give by 1.3 to get a better estimate.

Assumptions Based On Monthly Spend of: $1,430 Edit
General:
U.S. Gas Stations:
U.S. Supermarkets:
Airlines:
Hotel:
U.S. Restaurants:
Office:
Utilities:
Computing:
Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s welcome bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool. All estimates are based on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any welcome bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card and on the spend assumptions entered above (which you can edit).

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Card
$0 1.94%
$150
Get $150 bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months
$665
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 515 x $1 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 665

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One® and is not part of our independent analysis.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$0 1.94%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
$665
Graph Card Read Review More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 51,480 x $0.01 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $0.01 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 665

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee $0
APR 16.74% - 25.49% Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
PenFed Power Cash Rewards
Image of PenFed Power Cash Rewards No Annual Fee 1.79%
$100
$100 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,500 within your first 90 days of account opening
$615
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 515 x $1 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 615

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 9.24% to 17.99% Variable

Card Details

  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase
  • 2% cash back on every purchase as an Access America Checking account holder or as a current/former military member
  • 0% promo APR for 12 months (3% fee applies to each transaction)
PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card
Image of PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card No Annual Fee 1.62%
$0
$555
Graph Card More Details and Value Calculation

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 69,360 x $0.008 = $555
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 555

*The value estimate is calculated using ValuePenguin.com rewards point value.

Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR

Card Details

Comments and Questions

Opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the issuer. We may be compensated through the issuer's Affiliate Program. For a full list of our advertisers see our disclosure page

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.